You buy tickets. The Phillies' owners take a cut and then pass the rest of it on to the players. It is a simple concept, when you think about it. Ownership has once again demonstrated its determination to prolong this incredibly sweet spot in time. And now it means that Ryan Howard is going to be here until 2016.
The debate will begin in baseball circles if it hasn't begun already: does it make sense to commit at least $125 million to Howard in the years 2012-16? Does it make sense to commit that kind of coin to a 30-year-old power hitter, who will be 36 when the guaranteed part of the deal is over? Does it make sense for a big man who hits collossal home runs but who also strikes out a lot?
The quick answer is: yes.
But the reason might not be the one in your head. I cannot predict the future. Howard can't. The Phillies can't. This is all a guess. Skills erode sometimes. Injuries happen sometimes. Happenstance happens sometimes. To pretend to know the future is to tell a lie.
So you go on what you see now -- and what you see now is a fearsome slugger. But you have to look deeper than that.
What I see now is a guy who is physically in better shape than he was 3 years ago. That is about work ethic, and trying to get better.
What I see now is a guy who is three times the defensive player he was when he first arrived in the big leagues. That is about high-level instruction on the Phillies' part and it is about a willingness on Howard's part to identify a deficiency and deal with it professionally.
Howard has already made a ton a cash. His response to every bump in salary has been to work at his game even more.
Again, there are no guarantees. But in baseball's big casino, this one really does make sense.